This morning Council for a Livable World sent out a press release on the U.S.-Iraq status of forces agreement (known as a ‘SOFA’). Text is below.
Washington, D.C. — Council for a Livable World, a leading anti-Iraq war organization, announced its support today for the status of forces agreement recently signed by the United States and Iraq.
Iraqi and American negotiators have been working on the pact for over a year. The Iraqi parliament is expected to vote on the agreement on Wednesday. To pass, the agreement needs to get 138 votes out of 275 Iraqi lawmakers and also must be ratified by the Iraqi presidential council.
“Given where we find ourselves today, we see the agreement as the best way for the United States to leave Iraq promptly and responsibly,” said John Isaacs, executive director of Council for a Livable World. “The agreement reflects the views held by the majority of Iraqis and Americans that it is time for U.S. combat forces to start getting out of Iraq.”
Isaacs is available for comment today (Wednesday, November 26) from Washington, DC until 3PM.
The agreement mandates that “all U.S. combat forces” withdraw from urban areas in Iraq by June 30, 2009, and that “all U.S. forces” withdraw from the country by December 31, 2011. The agreement upholds Iraq’s “sovereign right” to demand the departure of U.S. forces anytime and recognizes the United States’ “sovereign right” to remove its forces earlier than the end of 2011.
For more information about the agreement, see the in depth analysis online.
The agreement also bars permanent American bases in Iraq, prohibits the United States from using Iraqi territory to launch attacks against other nations, and bars any residual U.S. forces in Iraq beyond the end of 2011.
“The signing of this agreement, along with the election of a new president who ran on a platform to end the war in Iraq, suggests that anti-Iraq war efforts have not been in vain,” added Isaacs. “Primary credit of course goes to the Iraqis. They drove a hard bargain.”
As with any complicated accord, not every part of the status of forces agreement is perfect. Downsides include both the Bush administration’s refusal to send the agreement to Congress for approval and various ambiguities in the text that could lead to future disputes.
“Question marks remain in the agreement concerning freedom of action for U.S. soldiers, vague security commitments, and protection of Iraqi assets,” said Travis Sharp, a defense analyst at Council for a Livable World who studied the agreement. “Thankfully the text provides President-elect Barack Obama with flexibility to amend or cancel the agreement if he needs to.”